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Multilingual Marketing: How to Reach Foreign-Language Audiences

Improve buisness and customer experience.

Filip Smet

Updated on May 1, 2024

If you want to expand your reach to markets where customers speak different languages, it’s essential to create multilingual marketing campaigns in their native tongue.

Potential customers won’t be able to resonate with your brand messaging and marketing materials if they don’t understand what you are trying to say. Therefore, you need to speak to them in their dialect.

However, implementing multilingual marketing is not as simple as translating your campaigns into different languages. Rather, there are several vital elements that a business’s multilingual marketing strategy must possess to drive brand awareness and ultimately, trigger sales.

In this post, we will outline what multilingual marketing is, how it can benefit businesses, and what elements contribute to a successful strategy.

Multilingual Marketing: How to Reach Foreign-Language Audiences

What Exactly is Multilingual Marketing?

Multilingual marketing is a marketing strategy that involves promoting services or products in multiple languages.

For instance, if a company is offering a product in Singapore, where English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil are the main languages spoken, they might want to roll out multilingual marketing activities in each of these dialects.

Many businesses undertake multilingual marketing as part of a global marketing campaign to enter markets with foreign-language audiences.

Moreover, they may also launch a multilingual strategy for their marketing if their target customer base speaks more than two languages (as in the Singapore market example above). 

Overall, launching a multilingual marketing strategy can help businesses communicate the features, benefits, and pricing of their products to potential new customers.

However, this is only worthwhile if the business is prepared to communicate in a language they can understand, as only then would they be able to make an informed decision on whether to proceed with the purchase.

Benefits of Implementing a Multilingual Marketing plan?

When executed properly, a multilingual marketing strategy can bring several benefits to a business. 

They include:

1. Increased brand awareness and business reach

Marketing your products in multiple languages helps you reach new audiences who speak different languages from you.

Regardless of whether these markets are found in the same domestic location or an entirely separate geographical region, they open up new opportunities for your business.

2.  Enhanced customer experience

If a potential customer is unable to understand your marketing materials, they may become frustrated to the point they no longer engage with your brand.

By contrast, when people understand what your products are about, you enable them to have a more enhanced customer experience.

3. More purchases

By reaching more people with your marketing efforts, and by providing them with a pleasant experience, you are more likely to receive more purchases.

This way, you’ll earn more in revenue, which might even come from repeat purchases as more people from the foreign-language audience you’ve marketed to might become repeat customers.

What Makes up a Robust Multilingual Marketing Strategy?

For a multilingual marketing strategy to be successful, it is important to translate your marketing campaigns if you plan to reuse them for different geographical target markets. 

That said, marketing translation is only one small part of a larger element of multilingual marketing.

Indeed, a robust plan for multilingual marketing should have three main elements:

1. Localization

Localization involves modifying your marketing campaigns to take into account the cultural needs and preferences of the local market – while retaining the original message of the campaign. This process of creating localized content for foreign-language audiences is also known as transcreation.

To localize your content effectively, it is important to conduct thorough market research to understand the cultural preferences of your target audience. However, you should avoid making assumptions, as even markets that are geographically close to each other can have different cultures.

Once you’ve completed your market research, modify your marketing campaigns based on your findings while keeping the original messaging intact. You may need to adjust words, idioms, phrases, and other elements to match the local dialect of the target demographic.

For example, a New York-based online clothing business looking to reach customers in the United Kingdom may want to refer to their range of ‘sweaters’ as ‘jumpers’ instead to appeal to the local audience.

It is also vital to avoid using phrases, words, and concepts that may not resonate with your target customers, especially if such content may offend them.

2. International SEO

If you plan to use web content as part of your marketing campaigns, it’s important to optimize it for better search engine visibility.

This way, potential customers who search for products or information related to your brand will be more likely to find and peruse your website. In turn, the increased website traffic can then translate to more sales and conversions.

Optimizing web pages for higher search engine visibility is known as search engine optimization (SEO). However, since you’re creating marketing content in multiple languages, you’ll need to optimize each piece of content separately for each language and target market.

To do this, you should do international SEO keyword research to determine high-value keywords for all your target markets.

This research should consider:

a) Search volume

The average number of monthly searches a keyword receives.

It’s best to drill down to a keyword’s search volume in a specific geographical market instead of relying solely on its global search volume.

b) Keyword difficulty

This metric estimates how difficult it may be to rank for a particular keyword.

Checking your keywords’ difficulty scores can help you determine which keywords to prioritize for SEO efforts.

c) Search Intent

An indication of what people are looking for when they search for a particular keyword. This information can help you create content that caters to their needs and intentions.

You may also be able to reuse keywords you identified for one market in another market by translating and localizing them.

However, it’s important to ensure that the translated keywords fit the local context and aren’t just direct translations. Therefore, you should also evaluate factors like the search volume, keyword difficulty, and search intent of the localized keywords to determine whether it is worthwhile to optimize them.

Finally, it is very important to follow the webmaster guidelines for the search engines you are trying to optimize your content for. For most English-speaking markets, this typically means conforming to Google’s Search Essentials. 

However, keep in mind that your target audiences may use other search engines, such as Yandex for the Russian market or Baidu for Chinese searchers.

3. Make Your Multilingual Marketing Approach Consistent Across All Channels

Businesses need to use various marketing channels to reach their target markets.

When marketing internationally, it is crucial to make sure that the content is multilingual, which means translating and localizing the content for each channel while presenting it in the best way possible.

To focus your international marketing efforts, it is recommended to use digital marketing channels such as email marketing, social media, and PPC (pay-per-click) ads. 

When using email marketing, it is important to learn your subscribers’ language preferences so that you can send them email advertising in their preferred language.

You can do this by inferring the language preference based on the subscriber’s location or by explicitly asking for their language preference.

Social media platforms should be chosen based on the social media preferences of your target customers.

If your target customers in a particular country spend a lot of time on Facebook, for example, then it is best to post content in their native language on Facebook. However, if you are trying to target Gen Z consumers in China, it is a good idea to create short videos for the Douyin app.

PPC ads are a good way to reach your target audience. You can place ads on publishing platforms and only pay when someone clicks on them. 

Platforms such as Google Ads and Baidu Ads can help you manage and publish your ads. It is important to optimize your ads for the people who will see them. 

If you are targeting native speakers from Malta, for instance, then you should localize your PPC ad for the Maltese market.

Conclusion

Localizing your multilingual marketing content is a terrific strategy to reach a global audience. But how you do it and where you do it is entirely up to you.

That said, we hope the insights provided in this guide have given you food for thought and will help your business achieve its strategic marketing goals.

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